The Supreme court has fixed May 26 to hear a suit filed by President Muhammadu Buhari and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami, voiding the provisions of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022.

 

Buhari and Malami had filed a suit on April 29 before the apex court through a group of private lawyers, including Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), hired by the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation.

File photo used to illustrate story.

The National Assembly is listed as the sole defendant in the suit.

 

The law bars political appointees like Malami from seeking elective public office or voting as delegates in a party primary unless they resign their positions.

Buhari and Malami had in the suit marked SC/CV/504/2022 and filed on April 29, 2022, removed the clause in the electoral act.

 

The duo told the apex court that the Section 84 (12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022 is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People and Peoples Rights.

 

They are seeking an order of the court to strike out the section of the Act, which they said was inconsistent with the nation’s constitution.

 

Buhari while signing the amended bill into law on February 25 had urged the National Assembly to expunge Clause 84(12) of the Act.

 

The clause reads, “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

 

In March, both chambers of the National Assembly rejected the President’s request to amend the clause in the electoral act.

 

Subsequently, the Attorney-General boasted that the Nigerian government would consider all other options available before taking a position on the matter.

 

In the suit marked SC/CV/504/2022, Buhari and Malami are seeking an order of the court to strike out the section of the Act, which they said was inconsistent with the nation’s constitution.

 

The duo told the apex court that the Section 84 (12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022 is inconsistent with the provisions of sections 42, 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), as well Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and People and Peoples Rights.

 

They added that the Nigerian constitution already provides qualification and disqualification for the offices of the President and Vice President, Governor and Deputy Governor, Senate and House of Representatives, House of Assembly, Ministers, Commissioners and Special Advisers.

 

The court document obtained by SaharaReporters reads in part, “A DECLARATION that the joint and or combined reading of the section 65, 66, 106, 107, 131, 137, 147, 151, 177, 182, 192 and 196 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, (as amended), the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 which also ignores Section 84(3) of the same Act, is an additional qualifying and/or disqualifying factors for the National Assembly, House of Assembly, Gubernatorial and Presidential elections as enshrined in the said constitution, hence unconstitutional, unlawful, null and void.”

 

Buhari and Malami are also seeking “AN ORDER nullifying the provision of Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act, 2022 by application of the blue-pencil rule, for being unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and having been made in excess of the legislative powers of the 1st Defendant as enshrined in section 4 of the constitution (as amended).”  

The National Assembly has, however, asked the Supreme Court of Nigeria to strike out the suit instituted by Buhari and Malami (SAN) over Section 84 (12) of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 2022.

 

President Buhari had on February 25, 2022, signed the electoral bill into law with a caveat that the section should be deleted in order to deepen democracy in the country.

 

But the National Assembly in March threw out the President’s request and insisted that serving political appointees must resign before contesting elections.

 

Malami, who also opposed the lawmakers’ decision, vowed that the Nigerian government would explore other means, including the court to ensure the provision that he claimed offended other sections of the constitution, was expunged from the amended Act.

 

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